Former Secretary of State and retired four-star general in the United States Army Colin Powell, own his own accord, used his appearance on this past Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press” to send a message to his political party: End your “dark vein of intolerance” or ultimately face the same fate as Karl Kani jeans in 2013.
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Powell offered numerous examples of the racially charged language employed by members of his party, including the use of terms like “lazy” to describe President Barack Obama’s performance in the first presidential debate of 2012 and that “shuck and jive” quip former Alaskan governor and perpetual village idiot Sarah Palin made via Twitter. Not only did he offer specifics, the 75-year-old statesman who at one point had the chance of becoming the nation’s first Black president in 1996, provided a history lesson on why these terms are offensive.
There have been others equally guilty, say ex-Mississippi governor Haley Barbour who in the past spoke highly of White separatist groups, which prompted Powell to declare to “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, “Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?”
For a party that loves to refute accusations of happily harboring racist fringes so long as it suits their political interests with “SEE! SEE! We got this Black, and this Black, and that Latino, and oh, that Black with lady parts!” you’d think they would see their most-accomplished member of color plead with them to elevate themselves and learn a lesson.
Unfortunately, thus far, all we’ve gotten from conservatives is the same old crusty two-step.
In an appearance on “Fox & Friends” this morning, right-wing talk show host Laura Ingraham (pictured) went in attack mode, calling Powell bitter over his role in helping falsely justify the war in Iraq:
“It seems that Colin Powell is trying to continue to expiate for his sins of that testimony,” Ingraham said. “He worked for Republican presidents and, presumably, those Republican presidents don’t have the view that the Republican Party is riddled with racism and has a ‘dark vein of intolerance.’”
Ingraham went on to declare:
“Liberalism has been an utter disaster for Black America. The weapon of mass destruction, Gretchen, has been found. The Democrats found it. It’s Colin Powell. He’s blowing up on Republicans.”
If Ryan Murphy and Tyler Perry had an over-dramatic baby, this would be the monologue he or she used to audition for Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
Joining her in dancing around the point with no offer of a replacement is the Washington Times‘ Eric Golub, who basically argues in his column,”Whatever, Powell. You could’ve ran in ’96, but you didn’t. So there!”
And then there’s the Wall Street Journal‘s Bret Stephens, who tries to raise Powell’s question of GOP comments about minorities with by bringing up former senator Chuck Hagel, noting [that] “maybe Mr. Powell could show that he’s as sensitive to the whiff of anti-Semitism as he is to the whiff of racism.”
Hello, hyperbole, and, false equivalency, so nice to see you still making the rounds at the Grand Ole Party.
I know their skin is the lightest color, but not nearly enough to be this blinding of their White privilege and its role in damning the lives of people of color today, yesterday, and tomorrow if the Tea Party has its way.
Yet, I’m not surprised the party who plugs personal responsibility all the time refuses to follow its own advice.
They haven’t been doing that for quite some time now, hence Powell’s comments. Comments, mind you, that have been repeated by other members of the party, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Then again, Jindal might actually be part of their problem.
Some conservatives can’t seem to grasp the notion that diversity goes beyond the surface of color, especially if the color blocks you’re citing tend to present that lily-white, exclusive point of view.
Even so, Colin Powell is right to note that the GOP’s core ideals have legitimate appeal to people of color — more so than some Republicans realize. But it’s all in presentation. You cannot serve White Nationalist realness to a dying segment of America and expect anyone who doesn’t fit that aesthetic to take your seriously. Likewise, you can’t try to bring back Jim Crow and claim you’re for all Americans. Ditto for classist remarks and harboring uterus-invasive sentiments.
That’s all Powell was trying to say, only it appears once again it falls on deaf and dumb Republican ears.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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